Jesus answered, ‘Don’t you know that in the beginning
the Creator made a man and a woman? That’s why a man
leaves his father and mother and gets married.
He becomes like one person with his wife. Then they are no longer
two people, but one. And no one should separate a couple
that God has joined together.’”
Matthew 19:4-6 (CEV)
Marriage is important.
It’s a special covenant, established by God, in which a man and woman willingly bind themselves together in love and become one. The Bible uses the marriage relationship as a symbol of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church. It’s the foundation of a healthy family and a strong society.
Marriage is hard work…even for Christians.
It’s easy to get married, but difficult to stay married. And the goal is not simply to avoid divorce or separation. Anger, frustration, dysfunction and disconnection are not God’s intention for marriage.
Marriage depends on good communication.
It is vital for husbands and wives to talk with each other about hopes and dreams and spiritual things. Conversations need to deal with more than just work, kids and things that need to be done around the house.
Our goal is to encourage honest, open communication between husbands and wives. We believe that willingness to “risk” in this area can have huge benefits. Part of becoming successful in communication is unlearning some bad habits while cultivating new habits. Some of the bad habits couples get into are:
- Miscommunication… Everyone wants to be understood, but our ability to listen to others is often complicated by our need to say what’s on our mind. In order for good communication to occur a message has to be both sent and received accurately. If a person is focused only on sending a message it will very likely interfere with his or her ability to receive a message.
- Angry Communication… When a conversation starts as a complaint, it’s easy and natural for the receiver to immediately go on the defensive. A critical, blaming tone of voice creates a “survival” mindset in the other person, regardless of the issue. Focusing on your spouse’s failures in a harsh, disrespectful way erodes trust and intimacy.
- Passive Communication… Always giving up or giving in is also unhealthy. A spouse who consistently discounts his or her own wants, needs and feelings is also eroding trust and intimacy. Mutual respect and appreciation requires give and take, and recognizes the interests of both the husband and wife.
- Do look for something to praise your spouse for every day.
- Do make time to talk when there’s not a problem to solve or many distractions.
- Do unto your spouse as you would have him or her do unto you.
- Do appreciate the inherent differences between men and women.
- Do avoid volatile statements like “you always…” or “you never…”
- Do keep in mind what really matters. The goal is not to win an argument. The goal is to have a healthy, vibrant marriage!
- Don’t interrupt the other person.
- Don’t lose your sense of humor.
- Don’t assume that you know what your spouse is going to say.
- Don’t assume that you know how your spouse feels.
- Don’t try to have an important discussion when one or both of you is tired, angry, upset or hungry.
- Don’t stop believing that your marriage is important and worth working for.
Ephesians 5:15-33 (New Living Translation)
“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk… that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit… making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord… For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church… As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Each month we will offer questions for couples to use in having healthy, spiritual conversations with each other. We encourage you to set aside some time – at least once a month – to discuss these questions in a friendly, supportive way. View the archived questions.
February Couples Questions
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)
“Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful and trusting.” I Corinthians 13:4-7 (CEV)
“Without Valentine’s Day, February would be… well, January.” Jim Gaffigan
February 14th is Valentine’s Day… a day devoted to LOVE. Certainly “love” is a greatly misunderstood concept in our society. That word is too often used to describe a wide variety of emotions and sensations. People tend to say love when they should have said like, lust or prefer. True love is powerful and profound… and it can only exist in relationship with another.
The Bible paints a picture of marriage as a partnership, established by God, in which a man and woman willingly bind themselves together in love and become one. Across the ages, much has been written and sung about love. One of my favorite poems is from Robert Browning: “Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.”
In his book, The 5 Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman identifies these primary ways of expressing and interpreting “love”:
Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing, “I love you,” is important; hearing the reasons behind that love is greater still. Insults can leave you shattered, though, and are not easily forgotten.
For this person, nothing says, “I love you,” like undivided attention. Being present is critical, but really being there – with the TV off and the paper down – makes you feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
This person thrives on the love, thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are cared for. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift can be a personal offense.
Acts of Service
Is vacuuming or doing the laundry an expression of love? It can be. Anything you do to ease this person’s burden of responsibility says “I love you.” Laziness, messiness, broken promises and “making more work” tells this person that his or her feelings don’t matter.
This language isn’t just sexual. A person with this primary love language appreciates hugs, pats on the back, holding hands and thoughtful touches on the arm. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and very destructive.
Which of these is your primary “love language”?
Which of these is your spouse’s primary “love language”?
What is one difference between you and your spouse that you’ve come to respect and appreciate?
What is one compromise that you’ve had to make with each other?
What is one way that you try to say “I love you” to your spouse?
We are asking our Adult Bible Study groups to identify “Marriage Enrichment Leaders” who will help to foster this emphasis throughout our church. These individuals are not “experts” nor are they claiming to have a perfect marriage. They are simply concerned members who want to nurture healthy marriages in our congregation. Our hope is that this area will continue to develop over time so that open, honest communication in and about our marriages will become the norm!
If you are interested in becoming a marriage enrichment leader for your Bible Study group, fill out the NEXT Step form.
Check out the following Marriage related resources…
Focus on the Family
Intimacy in Marriage
Check out @themarriagebed. Review past tweets. Consider following them. Do you agree? Disagree? Why? By yourself – or even better, with your spouse – read over several of their posts. Click on a couple of links.